Section 3 Provision

St. Aidan's Community College Special Educational Needs Policy 

Section 3. Provision

Identification and Intervention

Parents are requested at enrolment to provide relevant reports from the child’s previous school or reports by professionals who have assessed or who have provided support services for the child, for example psychologists, speech and language therapists, or occupational therapists. Feeder schools are contacted after enrolment to provide further information.

Screening and diagnostic testing is carried out after enrolment to assist in the selection of pupils for additional support. This information is shared with all relevant departments.

Students may also be the subject of an intervention:
a. Whole-class stage - the student’s learning difficulties are noted, the parents are informed, and intervention is provided by mainstream teachers.
b. School support stage - in addition to the support provided by mainstream teachers there is a more formal involvement by support teachers or the guidance counsellor (or both).
c. Consultation and assessment - referral for formal assessment by an educational psychologist or other professional is made, and an individual education plan is formulated in order to address the student’s needs.


Formal assessment by NEPS and other services
Criteria for assessment
• The student is experiencing significant learning difficulties on an on-going basis
and/or
• The student demonstrates significant social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Information-gathering
• Class teachers: observations, samples of work, reports on significant incidents, testing (house-exams; standardised spelling, reading, computational tests)
and
• SEN team: observation/further testing (Diagnostic and Aptitude)
and
• Whole school: consultation between Principal, SEN Team, Class and Subject Teachers, Year Tutor, Parents and Educational Psychologist & other agencies (in some cases)

Prioritisation for Assessment
This is subject to
• the NEPS allocation to the school in any given school year.
• the principle of early intervention.
• the prioritisation of pupils who are performing at or below the 10th percentile in literacy or numeracy, followed by other children, provided the needs of pupils who achieve scores at or below the 10th percentile have been met.

Provision of Support

The school recognises that effective support is based on the following principles:
• Effective whole-school policies
• Whole school involvement
• Provision of intensive early intervention
• Direction of resources towards pupils in greatest need

Effective teaching support is a collective responsibility requiring collaborative planning and implementation.
Provision may encompass one or more of the following strategies depending on the assessed needs of the student:
• individual withdrawal
• group withdrawal
• team teaching
• SNA support
A written declaration declining support will be required from students and parents who do not wish to avail of the support allocated to them. While recognising this, every effort will nevertheless be made to provide an appropriate strategy to support the individual student.

Models of Support

Individual withdrawal:
Additional teaching support on an individual basis is intended to be short-term, intensive and focused on needs that cannot be normally addressed in a mainstream class setting. Where possible it will correlate closely with subject teaching while at the same time benefiting the particular student. Withdrawal is done from non-exam classes as much as possible and in agreement with parents, the subject teacher and the Principal, who will confirm instances of withdrawal should the need arise.

Group withdrawal:
Operating in consultation with the relevant subject teachers, withdrawal may operate as an extra to the subject or, where the withdrawal is from a non-exam subject, as an additional support in the required subject area.

Team teaching:
This is planned and coordinated to benefit the targeted students. Team teaching allows a two-teacher team to work together in the classroom dividing their efforts between students and/or working separately by withdrawing a targeted group of students. Provision for team-teaching taken from the school’s ATS (Additional Teacher Support) hours, i.e. resource/learning support hours, must be clearly linked to the individual students who have been allocated them.

SNA support:
The support of a designated SNA allows the resource student and teacher to concentrate on curricular support programmes while the SNA offers correlating social and organisational support.

Provision for English as a Second Language

The SEN Department assumes responsibility for the provision of support for students for whom English is not the first language.

• If English is not the first language, the child may qualify for exemption from the study of Irish, and the SEN team will complete the necessary documentation to obtain this exemption.
• The English Department will refer students needing instruction in ESL to the SEN Co-ordinator in a prioritised list.
• The SEN Co-ordinator, in consultation with the Principal, will determine the level of support available to potential ESL students, informed by the following considerations:
i. The amount of support allocated to any child will depend on the current command of the language age. In general, older pupils will be offered more support time, as there will be more pressure on them to attain mastery.
ii. Support will be offered on a one to one basis, or in a small group setting, depending on the needs of the child. This time may also be offered on a withdrawal basis, or by the resource teacher working with the child in his/her classroom. This will be determined by the resource teacher in consultation with the child's other teachers, based on the needs of the child
iii. Supplementary support will be phased out after two years at the latest.
iv. The resource teachers will avail of in-service training in the provision of support to ESL pupils.

Continuing Professional Development

Staff involved in SEN will aspire to undertake further research and professional development as supported by school management.

Exemptions from the study of Gaeilge and additional languages
Students who meet the criteria for a formal exemption from the study of Irish are invited to avail of this exemption by applying in writing to the Principal. The application process is facilitated and directed by the SEN Department (Circular letter M10/94).

Such an exemption may be extended to the study of additional languages where the Principal deems it appropriate.

Assistive Technology

1. Applications for Assistive Technology
The SEN Department assumes responsibility for applications for the use of assistive technology only where it is explicitly advised by a professional assessment that a student requires the use of same. 

2. Process

• Appropriate assistive technology is identified by the Resource Department.
• Parental permission is required before applications for assistive technology are submitted to the SENO.
• Applications are processed, appropriate quotations are gathered from suppliers and purchase is made as soon as confirmation is received.
• Students and parents must sign a consent form before the technology is issued.
• Where a grant for the purchase of technology is refused, the school may still approve the use of assistive technology sourced elsewhere (such as from reserves in the school or the student’s own equipment) providing there is sufficient evidence to justify the use of same.

3. Responsible Use
Parents/guardians undertake complete responsibility for the technology, up to and including repair or replacement of the technology while in their care.

All assistive technology is issued on the explicit understanding that it is solely for the use of the named student.

Parents/guardians are required to maintain a daily diary of use and to sign this diary weekly, and to report any problems to the school immediately.

Laptops are to be used in a common area of the student’s home or in class and only under parental or teacher supervision. The use of the internet to access educational material is approved only strictly under supervision.

4. Responsibility for equipment

The equipment will remain at all times the property of the school. A designated teacher in the school will take responsibility for the management of the equipment and for monitoring its effective use within the school. Equipment purchased is kept in the school, however the pupil in question may, with the consent of the school, use the equipment at home.
The Resource Department will maintain a database recording each serial number, specifications, components, installed software and any other features of all technology.

The Resource Department will perform frequent checks on each item of assistive technology. The equipment must be presented when requested.

Such a check shall include, in the case of laptops:
• Ensuring that all settings are correct and that the technology is in a healthy state.
• Checking for any installed, removed or copied software.
• Scanning any new files, including internet browsing history, temporary internet files or authored files for viruses, pirated, illegal or obscene material.

5. Transfer of Equipment

Where the school has no further requirement for the equipment or where a pupil transfers to a different school, it may be allocated to another school in the interests of meeting needs to the greatest extent possible.

Although equipment is sanctioned to support a particular pupil, the equipment is sanctioned to the school and will remain the property of the school and be available for allocation to other or subsequent pupils with similar disabilities.

However, some equipment which is sanctioned is of a specialist and individualised nature and may not be suitable for other students in the school. In such circumstances it is not efficient that such equipment should be retained when the student for which the equipment was sanctioned transfers to a new school and would have to be re sanctioned for similar equipment in the new school, at considerable expense.

Should the pupil in respect of whom the technology is sanctioned change school, including proceeding to another post primary school, the school may approve the transfer of the equipment with the pupil where it is still appropriate for the pupil’s assessed needs. This will ensure that there is no gap in support for the pupil and to enable the pupil to continue to use suitable and familiar resources in their new setting.

Retention of technology may be considered where the technology is out of date, it is no longer suitable to the needs of the transferring pupil or there is another child enrolled/enrolling and in respect of whom the school would be applying to the SENO for the same technology.
Where the school or the pupil has no further requirement for the equipment, the SENO, or visiting teacher in conjunction with the SENO, may allocate it to another school in the interests of meeting needs to the greatest extent possible

Accommodations

The school will provide appropriate facilities for students with special educational needs. In all cases statutory obligations with regard to planning and development, building regulations and health and safety regulations must be observed. The availability of suitable resources, including staffing arrangements, will also be considered.

The school will attempt to resolve such issues as accessibility, way-finding, horizontal and vertical circulation, environmental comfort and safety, sanitary facilities, the suitability and selection of finishes including colour appropriateness, tactile surfaces, and safe internal and external recreation areas.

Reasonable Accommodations in Exams

Where students are eligible for reasonable accommodations in examinations, the school will attempt to provide such accommodations in House Exams, prioritising students in third and sixth year, resources permitting.
For the Junior Certificate, the school applies to the State Examinations Commission for "Reasonable Accommodations" under Circular S71/01. There is authority for the school to appoint superintendent/scribe/reader as appropriate under the terms of the scheme where appropriate evidence exists justifying the need for such an accommodation.

For the Leaving Certificate the school applies to the DES for "Reasonable Accommodations" for the student. These requests are determined based on evidence and are open to appeal.

The appointment of all relevant exam personnel is based on the needs of the child and will be determined by the SEN Co-Ordinator.
The SEN Department may conduct screening tests to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations and reserves the right to process applications where insufficient evidence of a disability exists.


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